Open to adaptation

August 3, 2017

In her opinion article “An open-access monograph dash could be disastrous” (27 July), Marilyn Deegan attacks a series of straw arguments about open access for books that have little basis in policy reality.

First, she assumes that open access leads to the abolition of print. Two of my monographs are open access. Both are available in print. The Crossick report recommended that print remain, as did the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Nobody in UK policy discussions is saying that we should ditch print.

Second, Deegan assumes that book-processing charges are the way in which OA for books will be implemented. Again, no recommendation to this effect exists.

Third, a Creative Commons licence is unlikely to have any effect on the right to “mine” books – this is already enshrined in UK copyright law as a valid exemption.

Finally, Deegan writes that OA will kill publishers and the monograph. Yet, the Academic Book of the Future report, in which Deegan was involved, claims that monograph sales have fallen from an average of 100 per book to just 60 in the UK over the past decade. We seem to be doing a pretty good job of killing it as it stands.

I do not call those with qualms about OA books “Luddites”. But I do question which side is really trying to defend the humanities when these types of argument are made that have little basis in the UK’s actual, ongoing implementation work for the monograph mandate.

Martin Paul Eve
Professor of literature, technology and publishing
Birkbeck, University of London


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